Researchers say they have identified genetic mutation linked to East Asian physical traits

Shane McGlaun - Feb 15, 2013
Researchers say they have identified genetic mutation linked to East Asian physical traits

A group of genetic researchers has announced that they have identified a mutation in a human gene as the source of some of the distinctive traits that differentiate East Asians from other races. According to the scientists, the genetic discovery accounts for traits such as thicker hair shafts, more sweat glands, characteristically identified teeth, and other differences. The scientists claim that the gene mutation occurred about 35,000 years ago.

The scientists say that DNA changes at 400 sites on the human genome market turning points in differentiating populations on each continent from one another. The researchers found that the first of those 400 sites of the human genome studied contains a gene known as EDAR. What the researchers call the standard version of the gene is carried by Africans and Europeans.

However, in East Asians the researchers say that one of the DNA units is mutated. One team of researchers on the project studying thicker hair in East Asians led by Yana G. Kamberov and Pardis C. Sabeti were researching the gene in mice where its effects can be more easily explored. Researchers say that mice have the EDAR gene already.

The researchers studied a strain of mice where the EDAR gene has the same DNA change as East Asian human genetic material. The researchers found that when the mice grew up they did have thicker hair shafts confirming that the genetic mutation was the cause of thicker hair in East Asians. The researchers also discovered that mice with the mutated gene also had extra sweat glands. Another discovery with the mice with the modified gene was that they had less breast tissue than mice with the unmutated version of the gene.

[via NYT]

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